Journalist awarded €47,000 by Employment Appeals Tribunal over dismissal

A journalist who claimed he was made redundant from a local radio station because of his coverage of the Corrib gas controversy in north Mayo has been awarded €47,000 compensation by the Employment Appeals Tribunal.

The EAT ruled that reporter Liamy McNally was unfairly dismissed from his job in the newsroom of Mid-West Radio, based in Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo.

The tribunal said the radio station had demonstrated a clear lack of objectivity in the manner in which the journalist was selected for compulsory redundancy.

Mr McNally, from Sheeaune, Westport, Co Mayo, worked at the radio station between 1995 and 1997 and again from June 1999 until he was made redundant at the end of 2010.

During a hearing in Castlebar last year, both sides agreed that Mr McNally was involved in some controversy over his reporting of events related to the development of the Corrib Gas Field. However, it was also agreed that his employment was uneventful in a disciplinary sense.

The EAT heard that the station’s managing director, Paul Claffey, informed staff in Sept 2010 that there would have to be two voluntary redundancies among the five staff working in the news and transmission sections because of difficult trading conditions.

In the event of insufficient acceptance of the voluntary redundancy package, Mr Claffey said he would have to implement compulsory redundancies.

Mr McNally was subsequently notified on Nov 5, 2010, that he was to be made compulsorily redundant from the end of the year.

In its ruling, the EAT said it was satisfied that there was a genuine redundancy at Mid-West Radio because of the ongoing economic climate.

It also accepted Mr Claffey’s evidence that he was attempting to negotiate with Mr McNally to accept a voluntary redundancy package.

However, it said the station provided no evidence as to why Mr McNally was selected for either voluntary redundancy or compulsory redundancy.

Nevertheless, the tribunal said it did not accept Mr McNally’s claim that he was targeted because of the controversies relating to his reporting of the Corrib Gas Field.

Mr McNally had claimed that there was a change in attitude towards him by Mr Claffey and station management since his coverage of the Rossport Five story in 2005, when five opponents of the Corrib Gas Field were jailed for refusing to allow Shell access to their private land.


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